Why haven’t the Pittsburgh Steelers completed terms on a renegotiated contract with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger yet? This is the question that everybody is asking when it comes to the team, including myself, which I posed just the other day.
The reason it’s a question is because it would seem to be a relatively clean and basic thing to accomplish if both parties are on the same page, which many assume is finalizing one more year of play and spreading out the cap hit of his earned money over the course of several years. There isn’t a lot of ways to do that, so it shouldn’t take long, or much discussion.
Jeremy Fowler of ESPN stopped on 93.7 The Fan yesterday to talk Steelers. He had previously been the outlet’s Steelers beat writer before moving up in the ranks, and has maintained some insights into the team. Even he acknowledges that the process with Roethlisberger has been unnecessarily languorous.
“Well, it’s been pretty slow. I thought maybe next week that would get done. They’re kind of slowly working it out”, he told his hosts. “I expect—the issue is, are they gonna ask him to take a pay cut or not? And some people around the league believe that they are, just because in part Ben has offered that, at least publicly, or at least suggested that he’s willing to help out”.
Of course, it’s best to be careful when framing Roethlisberger’s remarks, because people tend to read what they want to read into it. I certainly don’t think we can definitely say that he was volunteering to take less money than is in his contract. But the truth is, we don’t know if a pay cut is a part of their talks or not.
“You’re talking about a legacy player you don’t want to insult, so you’ve got to find a sweet spot there to try to shave a couple million”, Fowler said. “But otherwise, it’s very easy. Just take the dummy years, make it a 3-4-year voidable extension, knock the cap hit down about $14 million. I think it’ll be pretty clean in the end, and it could get done this week”.
As we should hopefully all know by now, Roethlisberger has a cap hit of $41,250,000 this year, but only $19 million of that comes from the pay that he is earning to play football in 2021. He is set to earn $4 million in base salary, and he has a $15 million roster bonus due on March 19.
$22,250,000 of his cap hit is immovable, and will count against this year’s cap hit no matter what they do. The $19 million is all they can work with, and without a pay cut, a little over $14 million is about the maximum that they could reduce his hit. Even a modest pay cut of a few million, however, wouldn’t lower the cap hit dramatically.